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The Bling Ring

2013 | 87 min | R | 1.85:1

The Bling Ring


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Movie appeal

Dark humor40%


Theatrical release date

 14 June, 2013
 05 July, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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The Bling Ring


Screenshots from The Bling Ring Blu-ray

The Bling Ring Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 20, 2013

“The Bling Ring” is not a film where the audience is meant to understand the characters, to peek behind the behavioral curtain to comprehend corrupt impulses. It’s an atmospheric picture, wallowing in indifference and cheap thrills to showcase the mummification of a generation raised on celebrity culture, caffeine, and permissive parenting. “The Bling Ring” doesn’t possess a death grip of judgment I’m sure most would like from this depiction of millennial lunacy, yet writer/director Sofia Coppola makes a more convincing argument for condemnation through observation, watching dim children willingly engage in illegal activities, incapable of showing remorse. That’s chilling enough.

Marc (Israel Broussard) is the new kid at his high school, concerned about his appearance and lack of friends. Pairing with Rebecca (Katie Chang), who’s delighted to have a gay bestie, Marc is introduced to a world of crime as his pal goes around testing locked doors on cars and soon houses, pilfering cash and clothes from targets foolish enough to leave their property unsecured. Through Rebecca, Marc meets Nicki (Emma Watson), Sam (Taissa Farmiga), and Chloe (Claire Julien), with the group setting out to infiltrate the homes of the rich and famous, stealing personal items from the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Stuffed with drugs and encouraged by social media, the teens progress in their grand larceny, eventually trying to sell stolen items as they bask in the glow of their accomplishments, so lost in their own burgeoning fame that they ignore signs pointing to their impending arrests.

Based on a Vanity Fair article written by Nancy Jo Sales, “The Bling Ring” is Coppola’s sedate summation of the current generation. Have tackled the childlike concerns of the 1970s (1999’s “The Virgin Suicides”) and 1770s (2006’s “Marie Antoinette”), the filmmaker turns her attention to the toxic state of the underage union, where the youth of today is fed prescription pills for breakfast (Leslie Mann portrays Nicki’s “The Secret” loving mother), numb themselves with cocaine and weed, build their esteem through social media, and treat fashion designers as gods. Fame is the goal with these personalities, not a betterment of self or a pursuit of character, they just want to live life as a headline, delighting in the adoration of others. It’s this mental erosion that defines the story, using Marc’s entry into a world of theft and fantasy as a map of disease, studying but not dissecting the “Bling Ring” participants as they torch what’s left of their moral compass to become the stars they worship.

“The Bling Ring” isn’t a comedy, but it reaches a few cartoonish heights. Time with the teens is dryly executed, allowing the characters to hang themselves with their actions and outerwear, stomping around in oversized sunglasses and heels, with a milky Starbucks concoction surgically attached to their hands. Although the temptation to satirize the extreme unrepentant attitude of this vapid crew is there for the taking, Coppola manages to find an even flow of outrageousness by simply soaking up the natural disturbance of the characters. We watch the teens hit the clubs, take life lessons from MTV actors, post selfies on Facebook, and debate fashion sense. And when the home invasions begin, the unit fails to process the violation (only Marc is slightly unnerved, but can’t help himself around pumps), instead reveling in the opportunity to rummage through the personal effects of Hilton, Lohan, Audrina Patridge, and Megan Fox, treating the experience as a visit to a department store where everything is free and for the taking. It’s a wallop of insecurity, vanity, and influence that’s surprisingly palatable to watch, eased by Coppola’s boisterous soundtrack selections and enchantingly flat cinematography by Harris Savides (who passed away last year) and Christopher Blauvelt.

The kids are irredeemable, so lost in their self-absorption that they even use jail time for self-promotion. Coppola isn’t requesting sympathy for these ghoulish teens, only to process their monumental sense of detachment, a personality disorder that’s satisfactorily executed by the cast, though some stiffness remains, especially around Watson’s unhinged-jaw L.A. accent. While it’s difficult to ask audiences to spend time with awful people and their unforgivable actions, “The Bling Ring” is most interested in the procedures (which includes simple online searches and celebrity blog monitoring to pick targets) and aftermath of theft, leaving outrage to the viewer. Coppola hasn’t created a sharp film, but it’s certainly an observant one, and could possibly qualify as effective birth control for some.

Starring: Emma Watson, Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga, Israel Broussard, Gavin Rossdale, G. Mac Brown
Director: Sofia Coppola

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